Airway damage that eventually causes bronchiectasis, also known as bronchiectasia, usually starts during childhood. The signs and symptoms, however, are not generally apparent until some time later - months and even years after the patient starts having recurrent lung infections.
A symptom is felt and reported by the patient while a sign is observed by other people, including the doctor. For example, chest pain may be a symptom while dilated pupils may be a sign.
A symptom is something the patient senses and describes, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor notice. For example, drowsiness may be a symptom while dilated pupils may be a sign.
The most common signs and symptoms of bronchiectasis include:
- A cough which occurs daily for months, or even years.
- The cough may get worse when lying on one side.
- Enormous amounts of sputum (phlegm, spit) are produced daily. This is coughed up and spat out. The sputum may contain mucus, trapped particles, and even pus.
- The sputum may be foul-smelling.
- Shortness of breath.
- Clubbing - the flesh under the fingernails and toenails become thicker. The nails curve downward and are shaped like the round part of an upside-down spoon.
- Abnormal lung sounds (when listened to with a stethoscope).
- Weight loss.
- Children may not grow at a normal rate.
- Coughing up of blood or bloody mucus.
- Bluish skin color.
- Breath odor.